Baby Addiction: Do some people feel like they NEED to keep having babies?

By Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

It’s been hard lately not to follow the story of Nadya Suleman, the single mother who recently gave birth to octuplets (to add to her the six children).  Her story became a major media story and initiated a national discussion about certain parenting issues, especially as they relate to family size.

One term that has repeatedly come up as part of this conversation is “baby addiction.”  Basically, it refers to people who feel that they have to keep having babies, even though they already have numerous children—often more than they can handle.

Now, I’m a baby lover myself.  Holding my newborns tops my list of favorite things I’ve ever done.  You may feel the same way.  But that’s not what we’re talking about here.  We’re also not talking about having a big family for cultural or religious reasons, or deciding to give birth to or adopt several kids because you love children and you’re able to provide them with a good home.  We’re not even talking about people who spend a lot of time thinking about having lots of children.

A baby addiction leads a person to actually have more children even when it’s a bad decision—for themselves, for the baby, or for the entire family.  It’s when someone decides to have another baby to meet their own needs, at the expense of the needs of their children.  Specifically, this means that the parents don’t have the emotional, financial, or physical resources to meet the needs of their children, but keep having babies anyway. 

If you’re thinking about yourself and your desire to have more kids, and wondering if you’re a baby addict, just consider your motivations.  Does your main reason have to do with the fact that you (and maybe a partner) are able to provide a loving, stable home, even to a large family?  If so, then that might be a decision you want to pursue. 

But there are other motivations that are less healthy and that raise major red flags when they appear.  Look at the following dysfunctional reasons some people give for having another child.  If you find yourself seriously thinking along these lines, then I strongly advise you to be honest with yourself about what’s best for you and your family.

Another baby will help keep my marriage together.

If your marriage is struggling right now, the last thing you want to do is to add hormone roller-coasters, sleeplessness, and stress into the mix.  And these are inevitable bonuses that come with a baby.  You and your partner will do yourselves and your family much more good by dealing with the issues at hand and improving your relational skills like communication, conflict resolution, etc.

I’m depressed, and having another baby will help me be happy again.

This kind of thinking is dangerous, since it ignores the fact that something is making you fundamentally unhappy.  Yes, a baby brings with it all kinds of joy, but eventually you’ll have to deal with depression again.  More importantly, all children deserve to have parents who are as psychologically healthy as possible.

I feel like something’s missing inside me when I don’t have a baby in my arms.

I really understand this feeling, and even identify with it to an extent.  Older children don’t gaze at us as intently or need us in the same ways that babies do.  Each time one of my sons left the baby stage and moved towards toddler-hood, I felt some genuine sadness that the baby phase was over.  But as parents, when our kids enter each new stage, our response shouldn’t be to try to replace them or our old feelings.  What we need to do is to be fully present with them and savor the joys that come with each new stage. 

If you’re feeling like something is missing and that your needs are best met by a new baby, or if you’re dealing with depression or your marriage is falling apart, then I strongly encourage you to speak with a professional who can help you get at the heart of what’s going on. 

Before I close, let me say that there are many big families that are loving and healthy.  Likewise, there are lots of small families that are drowning in dysfunction.  So the point here isn’t really about the size of the family.  The real question, again, comes down to what’s healthiest for the whole family.  So before you decide to add one more little one to your family, make sure you’re acting according to what’s best for that child, yourself, and the rest of your family.

3.875
Average: 3.9 (16 votes)
 

6 comments

By MichikoSaki on 11/14/15 at 8:20 pm

I recommend: http://www.MiracleOfPregnancy.org !

By j thomas on 06/06/12 at 4:08 am

goog artikle, like this

By girl1983 on 10/11/11 at 6:34 am

yes i agree

Sign in to leave a comment!

Today on JustMommies

The 7 Best Code-Talking Methods Parents Use

Children are little sponges—after a while, they pick up on everything. From your actions to your words, at some point they begin to apply meaning to them.

3-Ingredient Packed Lunch Recipes

Do your kids bring home sandwiches that have only been nibbled on, fruit that has been half-eaten, or carrots that are still fully-formed?

Why Shaming Children is a Bad Idea

If you remember being a kid at all, chances are your memories are a mixture of awesome moments of triumph and glee, sprinkled with some incidents you'd rather forget.

4 Apps that Could Pose a Danger to Your Child

While apps add so much value and simplicity to our modern lives, there is no doubt that parents need to be meticulous about the apps they allow their children to use.

From The Message Boards

Trying to Conceive With PCOS

PCOS and Trying For FOUR Years!!

Hello ladies. I've looked through some of these forums and a lot of the beginnings were really old....

Trying to Conceive

TTC after Mirena removal

Hi Ladies! I had my Mirena removed last month after having it in for 5 years. It's been out for 4 we...

Trying to Conceive

Ttfn

Morning ladies! I'm sad to say that I'll probably not be on here much anymore :( I usually am a...

Trying to Conceive

Chel's May TWW

Sooo I didnt intend to be in the TWW as I'm waiting for my cycle to start in order to do some fertil...

Trying to Conceive

Ok ladies I need you!!!!

ok so my last period was April 11, I tried to do the ovulation tests everyday but I missed some day...